2009 brought some major policy victories that will greatly improve the lives of people living with and at risk for HIV/AIDS:
Reversal of syringe exchange funding ban: In December 2009, Congress finally lifted the federal funding ban on syringe exchange programs. Even though these programs have been proven to reduce HIV transmission without increasing drug use, Congress would not allow any federal funding for them for over 20 years. Thanks to tireless efforts of our advocacy partners, this ban is now history, an important step forward in assuring that science determines how HIV prevention dollars should be spent.
Renewal of Ryan White Program: On October 30, 2009, President Obama signed the Ryan White Treatment Extension Act. This bill renews the lifesaving Ryan White Program for another three years. The program provides vital care, treatment, and support services to over 100,000 low-income and uninsured people living with HIV/AIDS. The extension will allow for continued services while Congress continues developing health care reform legislation.
Lifting of HIV immigration ban: In November 2009, President Obama ended one of the country's most shameful policies by lifting the ban on HIV-positive immigrants and travelers. The ban was first implemented in 1987 and prohibited HIV-positive foreign nationals from entering the country without obtaining a waiver for short-term travel. As a result, the International AIDS Conference has lifted its boycott of the US and the 2012 conference will be held in Washington, DC.